France Relaxes Border With 7 Non-EU Countries, But It’s Not The Best Travel News

A gargoyle on Notre Dame in Paris–France is opening its border to arrivals from 7 non-EU countries

France announced Thursday that it would relax border restrictions for travelers arriving from seven countries around the world starting Friday 12 March: Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

Whilst this might sound like promising news, it isn’t necessarily the best news, nor is it likely to have much impact on travel.

Current rules say that travel is banned from outside the EU except for very special circumstances, which have been very limited. The new changes mean that it is no longer necessary to have motif impérieux (compelling reasons) to travel to and from these countries.

Six of these countries currently have very low rates of Covid-19 and have been on the EU’s safe list of countries for much of the pandemic. In reality, it is also highly unlikely that much travel will actually happen between France and these countries–New Zealand and Australian borders remain closed to outsiders.

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The U.K. is more surprising at first glance but the explanation is easy. Since the emergence of the Covid-19 variant B.1.1.7. across the U.K., travel has been very limited between the two neighbors. However, now that the variant is widespread across France, as reported by The Local, the restrictions are no longer necessary. Currently, 60% of new cases of Covid-19 are the variant Anglais.

The Foreign Ministry said, “in a decree to be published on Friday, March 12, it will no longer be necessary to justify a compelling reason for travel to or from Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore, due to the widespread spread of the ‘UK variant’ in France and the specific health situation in these countries.”

France might usually be one of the most sought after tourist destinations but several regions are suffering heavily from very high rates of Covid-19 and are under high alert. On 11 March, nearly 80% of ICU beds were occupied across the country, the entire country is under a 6pm curfew and the French Riviera and Dunkirk are under weekend lockdown.

People wishing to travel to France need to have proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test and fill in a travel declaration to state they don’t have any symptoms.

I have lived in Provence ever since I exchanged my London city life for the south of France. I have a background in research, business and finance.

 

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